HC Deb 19 May 1971 vol 817 cc1267-8
34. Mr. Sutcliffe

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to make sex supermarkets subject to local authority planning requirements.

Mr. Michael Heseltine

I am consulting the local authority associations in order to establish what problems are being created by the establishment of these shops. In the light of their views it should be more practicable to assess whether town planning controls should be applied to this type of development.

Mr. Sutcliffe

Is my hon. Friend aware that parents will welcome the concern which he has expressed at the growing influence of the new style, superficially respectable stores which are purveying degraded sex to impressionable young people for whom those parents have a family responsibility?

Mr. Heseltine

I am sure that my right hon. Friend was aware of this view when he decided to initiate the consultations.

Mr. Ron Lewis

Will the hon. Gentleman speed up his consultations and con- sult the Carlisle Council, since I understand that one of these shady customers is seeking to establish one of these super sex markets there? [Laughter.] I hope that the House will take this rather more seriously, because the town clerk of Carlisle has already said that nothing can be done under the present planning law and that these people can step in and take over. Will the hon. Gentleman look into this speedily and stop this shady incident happening in my constituency?

Mr. Heseltine

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will realise that this is a very difficult matter for a town council to handle. But he will also perhaps feel it appropriate to advise his local authority to make its views known to the local authority associations, with which we are in consultation.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

In view of the confusion which was indicated in the last question, may we have an official definition of what constitutes a sex supermarket?

Mr. Heseltine

It would need to be a super definition.

Mr. Simon Mahon

Will the hon. Gentleman take this matter with the seriousness it deserves? There are many people in this country who are sick to death of this sort of activity in many ways, as they are of the interference with the privacy of many people by the Julian Press? People wonder why successive Governments have been unable to curtail this activity. Will the hon. Gentleman consult the Home Secretary as soon as possible to see what can be done?

Mr. Heseltine

I can certainly give that assurance. My right hon. Friend will be in consultation with the Home Secretary. One of the problems in considering this matter is to decide whether this is an appropriate action which comes under the heading of planning control.